In collaboration with the Jesuit Institute and Sisters for Justice, CPLO hosted a roundtable discussion on the results of the municipal elections. The discussion was held in Trinity Hall, Johannesburg, and the panellists were Prof Steven Friedman (Universities of Johannesburg and Rhodes, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy) and Mr Ebrahim Fakir (Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa, Manager of Governance Institutions and Processes). Mr Fakir took the podium first and began by stating that the recent elections have ushered in an era of substantive uncertainty. He refuted the grand narrative that the ANC was on its last legs as a relevant political party, demonstrating that the ANC largely maintained its grip on the areas it governed. The 2016 local elections revealed three stories: a story of continuity, a story of consolidation, and a story of change. Fakir hailed South African voters as the real winners of the elections, saying that the voters demonstrated sophistication in terms of how they voted. Prof Friedman began by agreeing with Mr Fakir that the ANC was not in freefall; the party maintained its relevance and would continue to do so for some time despite its having no assurance of winning the next elections. However, the ANC’s loss of support now forced commentators to re-analyse South African electoral politics. Prof Friedman went on to discuss factionalism within the ANC and said that it spoke significantly to socio-economic developments in South Africa. He refuted the claim that Jacob Zuma was the ANC party, and said that the factional battles currently playing out weigh more than the controversy surrounding Zuma. In all, the event was well attended by members of civil society and the religious sector, and the discussion itself was insightful, fresh and objective.
L-R: Prof Steven Friedman, Fr Anthony Egan (Moderator, Jesuit Institute), and Mr Ebrahim Fakir